Thursday, 24 February 2011

Trackwork 2011 - Second session

Lifting track
Continuing to take advantage of work project schedules I thought it would be nice to escape for another day helping with trackwork, and to try to address some the many tasks on my Bressingham to do list.

At work we have several major projects looming on the horizon and once they get started it will be much harder to get leave at short notice.


Sunday's team have added another length of new rail to where we left off on Thursday, so the first task is to gauge, drill and pin this into place. As we had to pin both sides this time, we had to line the sleepers up and ensure they were correctly spaced which took a little longer.

The new track is a little further away from the ditch (a good thing) and it will need to join up with the existing track which curves and is now 18" or so adrift. This next section of track is scheduled to be replaced at the end of the 2011 season, so Chris suggests we lift a couple of sections with a view to moving the trackbed and relaying with a slightly modified curve so that everything joins up.

Chris unbolting fish plates
The first task is to unbolt the fish plates that join the rails together. A combination of rust and locking nuts make a two minute job into ten, and it takes us a good hour to remove a dozen plates. Once removed, I unscrew the coach bolts and plates that fix these rails to the sleepers. There are also additional pins holding the curved rail in place and these are dealt with by jacking the rail up, placing a block underneath to support it and then whacking the sleeper with a sledgehammer.
Me lifting track

Ready for Sunday's team

Depending on the condition of the sleeper and how many pins are holding the rail it can take anything from a simple tap to several good clouts to release it. Once the rail is free it is moved to the side and the sleepers are stacked in a pile to allow air to circulate and dry them out. The ones in good condition will be reused, any rotted ones will be discarded. They only need to last a year as this section (probably as far as Diamond Crossing) will be completely relaid later this year. Something to look forward to!

Track ballast arrives
In a case of perfect timing, Chris gets a call over the radio to say that his ballast has arrived, and we make our way back so he can supervise its unloading. It only takes two minutes to unload the 20 tons, around £800 worth. Expensive business this track maintenance, but essential for safe and efficient operating.

Did you know that you can help raise funds for Bressingham when you shop online? By registering with Easy Fundraising you can earn Bressingham money each time you shop at selected online retailers. With many big names like Marks & Spencer, Boots, Sainsburys, John Lewis, Dell and Amazon participating, it's simple and totally free. Since I signed up in October I have raised over £30 - nearly enough to purchase a ton of track ballast.

Locomotive sheds

Beckton No. 25 0-4-0T saddle tank locomotive

In desperate need of some more images for the collection website and armed with an ultra wide-angle lens I wander round the main locomotive sheds. Even at a 12mm focal length it's still not possible to get some of the shots that I want. Fortunately the panoramic head that I will use for the Virtual Reality shots is also ideal for stitching several images together, so I should be able to cover all bases. Because the sheds are closed to the public this week, there are various items that have been put into storage here and it's a bit awkward to get enough space for some shots, and others have items in the way.

Stored in here on pallets and ready to be erected is the new fence that will enclose the Gallopers. Very smart it is too with bright red paintwork that will match the platform.

New fencing which will improve the area around the Gallopers

New for 2011

Crazy golf course construction is nearly complete

John and Maureen who look after and run the dodgems, fairground rides and fairground stalls have been busy constructing a crazy golf course between the dodgems and where the new 5″ and 7.25″ railway will go. John tells me how next week he has to lift, inspect and repair where necessary sixty one floor panels on the dodgems. This must be completed before Bressingham reopens at the end of March and is part of the ongoing restoration of the dodgems — a project John started about five years ago when he bought the dodgems set. Hopefully it will be fully completed in the next couple of years. Maureen also tell me that the barn owl was around earlier, and of course I missed it.

Whilst wandering back to my car I pop by the Gallopers and grab a wide angle shot in the last few remaining minutes of sunlight. My new lens certainly allows for some interesting and new aspects on familiar subjects.

Gallopers lit by the last light of the day

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